Adelinde Cornelissen: “You have to believe in themselves and never give up on the way to the goal”

16. Mai 2019 team had a chance to talk to one of the best dressage riders in the world from the Netherlands – Adelinde Cornelissen!

The huge role in the Adelinde’s sport career played the gelding called Jerich Parzival. The pair won a lot of national competitions, international competitions, World Cups, World Equestrian Games and Olympic Games. The pair represented Team Netherlands during the Olympic Games in 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio De Janeiro). In London they were silver medalists: 2nd place with the score of 81,868% in the Grand-Prix and 2nd place with 88,196% in the GP Freestyle.

Adelinde and Parzival started to compete together in 2007, at that time their results were much lower (65-67% in GP; 65 in the KUR GP). Throughout years their results grow up and they finally touched the result of 80% in 2008. Their highest result in the Grand Prix Freestyle is still their performance in Lyon in 2012, where their score was a 89,375%.

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Photo: Parzival

Prokoni: How did you meet with Parzival?
Adelinde: That’s a long story. :) I was still studying at the university and I decided to go to Canada for a year. When I came back from Canada, one guy asked me if I want to ride his horse to show him to the customers. When I came back from Canada, I said “Yes, sure, why not?” And that was Parzival. It was not so easy cause he was going quick and spooky.

I tested the horse the day before the customers came and it took me a long time before I was on the horse, and I had to do my best to stay in the saddle. But the next day the customers came, and they decided not to buy him, because he was quick and spooky, so I suggested to ride him longer, because I thought, and he might learn more from me. So the next day I kept on riding him.

Prokoni: What were the difficulties in working with him?
The most difficult was that he was so spooky, he was scared of everything, he was growing up by himself. He hadn’t seen any other horses, and he hadn’t seen a lot of people until he was 3, so that was the biggest difficulty, because everything was new for him and really scary, he was scared of the horses, of everything that would move and everything that he would see – like bench, table or whatever. So, I have to build up confidence and trust in him. It took a long time, but he did very good job!

Prokoni: What did he teach you?
Firstly, he taught me to be really patient, and also to believe in what you feel, so it was a long way. I had to retire the test a lot of times, because he got too spooky. But I believed in him. Of course, a lot of people told me to quit it, that he was never gonna work, but I kept believing in him, and I think, when you believe in something, you can really get it.

Картинки по запросу adelinde cornelissen 2012

Photo: Women Fitness/ Adelinde with Parzival

Prokoni: Is it difficult for you to compete on other horses after Parzival now?
Adelinde: No, it’s not difficult.. In the beginning, of course, with every new horse I was trying to compare them with Parzival, because there are not horses that are alike, each horse has its own character. Everytime I liked to start the puzzle from 3-year-old and see how far you can get with it. It’s a challenge, and I like that.

Prokoni: What is his daily routine now? Do you still ride him?
Adelinde: No. Now he’s enjoying his retirement, I’m not riding him anymore.

Prokoni: What is the right way to start young horses training?
Adelinde: We start riding young horses when they are 3 years old. The most important thing that they learn how to find their balance under the rider and then on the walk, trot and canter. We go step by step, making transitions, speed controls – and then you build it up.

I think that the young horses should have various trainings, it’s really important, so outdoors, in the woods. It makes them happy. And I think that’s really important.

Photo sent by Adelinde/ Aqiedo

Prokoni: How much time do you need to prepare a horse to a Small or Big tour?
Adelinde: That really depends on a horse. Like people one horse learns quicker and has the easier body. For instance, if you have young horses that are really big, than, of course, it takes a little bit longer than when you have a horse that is smaller and compact. Smaller and compact horses are little bit faster, so it's easier for them to balance.

So, when a horse is ready physically and also mentally to go to a higher level. Thus, when the horse is ready mentally and physically, then I move to a higher level.

Prokoni: Do you like to work with young horses or with elder horses?
Adelinde: I like to start with a young age. I start working with horses from 3 years old, and I like to have all the information, so, when you start working with horses when they are 3 years old, you know every step they do. I like that, and then I like to raise their level as far as they can get (I hope to the Big Tour). So, I prefer to go the whole way: from the beginning (3 years) to the Grand-Prix.

Картинки по запросу adelinde cornelissen henkie

Photo: HAVENS Paardenvoeders/ Henkie

Prokoni: Tell us about your horses, please.
Adelinde: I have horses of each level (from 3-year-old to Grand-Prix). My GP horses are Aqiedo and Zephyr at the moment, they do international competitions at the GP. I also have upcoming horses that have already performed very well on the Small Tour, for example: Fleau De Baian, Goodman and Governor. They are 8-9 years old, so, now I’m preparing them for the Big Tour.

Photo sent by Adelinde/ Fleau de Baian

Governor is very talented stallion, his pedigree is excellent and influence on breeding. He is from Totilas and from full sister of Parzifal. Governor perfomed at the Small Tour on the Dutch Championship and once at the international competitions in Jumping Amsterdam. Now we’re preparing him for the GP. He is only 8, and as soon as he is ready, we will start competiting him.

I also have seven-year-old horses, one of them is the Henkie, and also very young - 3-4 years old, most of which are stallions (they are promising). So, I like to start the road with them as well.

Henkie is 7 years old , he’s really good horse. He was in the middle of the selections for this year Young Horses Championship. He participated in the World Championship in Ermelo among horses 5-6 years old in 2017 and 2018.

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Photo: Governor

Prokoni: Governor is very talented, and your performances with him are amazing. Please, tell us about his sport skills and character more.
Adelinde: Yes, Governor doing a very good job really. We understand that he is handsome, he is a really talented mover and he has a very good character. He is a super-easy, and calm, and super-intelligent, always willing to do the job, he is a real competitive horse. He is a strong and very athletic horse. Well, we’ll see how far he gets

Prokoni: What is the most difficult in work with Governor?
Nothing so far :) Nothing really! He’s done very good job so far, we haven’t come across any real difficulties yet. Governor’s owner is also very nice, he gives us as much time as it takes to prepare horse for the Big Tour. It's so nice.

Prokoni: What qualities do you like in horses?
First of all, horses have to have are workable. Of course, no horse is perfect. I like intelligent horses with a lot of goals like they have to be willing to move or work, that is really important.

Secondly, horses have to have a 3 nice gates – walk, trot and canter. They have to be balanced and not necessarily really big mover.

The balance is a quality of horses like Parzival, like Governor, like Aqiedo and Henkie. They are balanced on all the gates like walk, trot and canter, they can be “bigger” and “smaller”, can go forward and collect. That’s, of course, I think this is very important!

Prokoni: How to make a trot and canter higher, more uphill?
That is matter of balance, you need to teach the horse to become stronger, using a lot of transitions, a lot of speed-controls, you can go to smaller trot or canter, or to bigger canter again, and if you can separate that quicker and quicker, you can shift the balance of the horse. If they have more time to lift the fore legs, it’s easier to them to go “up-hill”.

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Photo: Governor

Prokoni: What exercises do you like in dressage?
I like all the exercises!) So, all exercises are important. You do exercises to make your horse more supple and athletic. For example, you do the shoulder-in with the hind legs under the body, the half-passes with the bending, and all these exercises lead step-by-step to more collection and it makes horse in general more athletic.

The most difficult exercise - the zigzag in canter. It is an exercise that I found really difficult to ride, because you have to do so many things well. You have to keep a really good quality canter in the turn of a center line. You go 3 strides half pass left then change, then 6 strides half pass right, 6 left, 6 right and again 3 left. All with big flying changes in between, a lot of expression in your canter half passes, devide left/right evenly, devide start/end evenly. So all in all a lot to do and make perfect. So, before you really get that exercise perfectly, you will have a lot of practice.

Prokoni: Please, tell us how to start training piaffe?
The piaffe, again, is not so much of exercise itself, like “OK, today I gonna teach him to do piaffe”. If you do the whole preparation and education, step by step, it leads to a perfect piaffe. If you can shift the weight back, if you have total speed control, if you have total control on where the horse puts his fore legs, then you will shift the weight back more, more, more, until the weight is really in the hind legs, and then you can stay on the spot. It’s not a trick, it’s an outcome of all your work.

Картинки по запросу adelinde cornelissen piaffe

Photo: Parzival

Prokoni: Do you work the piaffe with horses in hand?
I think the less “extra” aids you need, the easier it is to do later on in the competition. In the competition there is nobody on the ground to help you. So if the horse understands in the first place to piaffe without someone helping on the ground, it is the easiest to implement in the test. Of course when the horse does not understand, you can try with help from the ground.

Prokoni: Do you plan your work?
Yes. All you have to do is get the whole management. Riding is important, but it just one part of the puzzle. There is whole management around it. It’s important to have the best opportunity for your horse to develop. Good dentists, good grooms, good stable – all these things are important. And yes, the planning is a part of it.

I like to plan everything ahead, I like to know what is coming up, and when there is a competition. I like to know if we have a little bit of time to take the pressure of and build it up again.

Prokoni: What are your main goals now?
I would like to develop my horses and their talents, that’s actually what I love to do. I like them to become as good as possible. I would love to go to the Olympics again, and we’re working on it.

Prokoni: Please give some advice to riders, what they should pay attention to?
Adelinde: They have to believe in themselves and never give up. That is a long road, there always gonna be ups and downs for everybody, try to stick to your goal and your feeling.

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